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Feathers fly over this weekend’s ostrich chariot race

March 10, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A festival of ostrich racing set to be held this weekend, in which birds sprint around the track ridden by jockeys or pulling chariots, has drawn fire from animal rights activists, who want the event stopped.

The Chandler Ostrich Festival, held in a town near Phoenix, Arizona, is due to start today (Friday 10 March 2017) and continue until Sunday. The venue is Tumbleweed Park.

Protesters representing United Poultry Concerns (a nonprofit organisation dedicated to the compassionate and respectful treatment of chickens, turkeys, ducks and other domestic fowl) and Arizona Vegan Animal Liberation Activists are urging the Chandler Chamber of Commerce to axe the ostrich races – both the chariot style and the rodeo style events.

They say the organisers should focus instead on attractions “that reflect Chandler’s evolving high-tech industry and the public’s growing interest in digital attractions and exciting human performers, such as acrobats, dancers and stage artists”.

 

Once said to draw 250,000 visitors, the festival now attracts about 100,000 visitors, according to the Chandler Chamber of Commerce.

The protesters say this proves public interest is dwindling in staged performances featuring animals forced to act unnaturally, as witnessed by the demise of Ringling Bros. circus.

“Rather than cling to relics of the past, the Chamber should take stock and get out of the animal entertainment business,” an issued statement says.

Protesters says ostriches – the oldest living birds on earth – are designed to roam vast desert spaces “and survey the land with their brilliant eyes in all directions at once”.

“In their natural habitat, ostriches are dignified birds devoted to their families,” says protest organiser Robert Franklin.

“By contrast, the ostrich races strip ostriches of their dignity, make them look silly, and put them in danger. Ostriches are not suited by temperament or anatomy to pull chariots and carry riders.

“Their large fragile eyes, long legs and necks can be easily injured – and whatever injuries they sustain are hidden from view as the ostriches are whisked away immediately as soon as the show is over.

“These races send a dangerous message, especially to children: That it’s fun to force animals to do things against their will if somebody finds it entertaining. Instead we should be teaching our children to respect animals and protect them, not frighten them and put them in harmful displays for our entertainment.”

Written  by Peter Needham

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